My last article was about meeting my sisters for the first time in years. It was great making the connection and spending time together. I had a piece of myself that was missing. My older sister was such a part of my first six years of my life. We had survived tough times by having each other. My younger sister was nice to get to know her, but we did not have the early bond. Most people bond to their mother the first six years of their life, I bonded with my sister who was only six years older than me.
I talked about how everything that happened to me in life, the losing the chance to be a part of my sibling’s life was the hardest thing to lose. One year after spending time with my older sister I went to see her. I learned that what I missed went deeper. I missed being a part of her family. She has children I never was a part of their lives. The thing that would have made a big difference in my life, I was cheated on. Collateral damage of being separated by the system hit me hard.
What a joy it was to meet one of my sister’s daughters. She was open to meeting with me and it was one of the moments in life I will always remember. Instead of being upset of why this day did not happen sooner, I was looking forward to the chance to get to know her. She has two sons that were a joy to meet. After being told that I was not a blue blood in my foster family, I felt more a part in five minutes with them, than I had in all the years as a foster child.
The foster care system does the best they can. I believe that the first choice in placement should be with relatives. My life would have been so different had they just checked to place me with relatives. The collateral damage was being placed in foster care with no contact with my siblings. Not only I lost the chance of being close to them, I also lost the chance to be a part of their families. My older sisters had children I was never able to be part of their lives.
The thing I would like to do in the future is be any part of their lives. I know a long-lost relation is a hard thing to ask someone to accept. I am glad for any part that they are willing for me to be a part of. I once wrote about feeling like half of a whole, that was not the case with visiting my sister’s family.
I just read a book on communication that has given me direction for the future. Conscious Communications by Mary Shores was eye opening about the things that I let me not grow. I can never change the past, but I can learn from it. Being a former foster child does to define me. It is time for me to build the life I want.
One of the things I feel is important is breaking a cycle. My Grandmother had to raise five girls on her own back in the 1930’s. One of her daughters passed away as a child. She always had to be in survival mode. My mother had seven children and spent her life in survival mode. She always felt the need to count on a man to survive. My step father took is life when I was five. My mother had three children under six at the time. Shortly after are lives changed when we were placed in foster care.
When my daughter was born, people would say about being afraid I would be like my mother. I learned from a young age that the best way to break the cycle was to not count on someone else to survive. The one thing I wanted for my daughter was to not have to be with someone to survive. I wanted the cycle to be broken. I wanted the survival mode to be switched to thrive mode.
I am proud of how my daughter has worked hard to break the cycle. She works in special education which hits close to home. My mother never learned to read, and did not go pass the sixth grade. Autism runs in my family and my daughter working with children makes me proud. I wish that my mother had someone that cared to help her. The system failed her, and in turn failed all her children.
One of the most hurtful thing that has been said is how could you bond with a child. People who judged me because of my childhood upset me. People do not realize that my grandmother and mother did the best they could with what they had to work with. We were given life by our mother and the chance to be something. We all had to build from nothing. It is nice to see the next generations have been thriving, not just surviving.
When someone asks about my life, I must start with before I was born. My mother’s early life set the stage for her children’s lives. She was one of five girls in her family. She learned of loss early when one of her sisters died as a child. Her father left the family and moved to California. That left the girls with my grandmother. Her life had been hard. She had to quit school young because her father passed away. She was the oldest, went to work to help support her seven siblings. Her life was very hard from an early age. Then after her tough childhood, she found a way to raise her daughters.
My mother never went pass sixth grade. She could not read, and employment would have been hard. She learned to survive by men helping her. She lived her whole life in survival mode. She was never able to thrive. She had seven children of her own. All seven children survived childhood. She was able to survive until her third husband committed suicide. This event was too much for her. This is when her life took a big turn. This event in turn changed my life. I was separated from my siblings. We would never live under the same roof again.
The seven children were split up between foster care and relatives. Four went with relatives and three into foster care. They never checked with any of my relatives to place me. I went into foster care and could have gone with a relative. When I went back into foster care after a being back with my mother, my older sister tried to get me to live with her and her husband. They told her she was too young.
I you can see, my story started long before I arrived. One of the lessons I learned early was when you get knocked down, get back up. I may have been knocked down nineteen times, but I got back up twenty. I have Hope Moving Forward.